Starflower chain quilt – finally finished!

Do you have a quilt top drawer? What am I saying! If you answer yes to “Have you quilted for more than 3 years”, then you’ll know all about the quilt top drawer. I don’t know why some tops just   get put off the big finish; you lose love for the fabrics, you have other more pressing projects to a deadline, you feel it needs a bit more added. But look what happens if you open that drawer now and then:

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Look at that! My Starflower Chain quilt from… ughhh, February 2014. Eeek. At least that’s when I did the tutorial here, using 3 charm packs and a fat quarter:

https://cuckooblue.co.uk/2014/02/21/starflowers-chain-quilt-charm-pack-busting-hst/

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Somehow I couldn’t find a reason to quilt this quilt before; it’s 61″ square so too big for a baby quilt, all the wrong colours for my house, too girly for my son, too pink & fancy for a picnic quilt for our boy-heavy family. And then I heard of Siblings Together.

Turns out that children placed in the UK foster care system are often separated from their siblings. I understand that it’s difficult to take in several children, but how awful for these kids. Anyway Siblings Together is a charity which puts on camps for these kids to get to spend time with their siblings. And some amazing quilters are leading the drive to make a quilt for each child to keep as a reminder of their time at camp. And I decided that this quilt top finally had purpose! You can read more here about the quilt and block drive here:

http://siblingstogetherquiltgroup.blogspot.co.uk/p/siblin.html?m=1

I pieced a back:

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..using some of my favourite warm fabrics. I love the back! Almost more than the front.

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I just stipple quilted it this time, it feels like an awfully long time since I stippled… It’s because I got a half-board of a new batting – EQS Sew Simple 100% cotton LIGHT batting, without scrim. I like Sew Simple and it is much cheaper than my absolute favourite Quilter’s Dream batting – but it usually has scrim, and I worry about that tiny bit of polyester melting in the event of a fire. Probably overkill I know but you have to do what you feel is right for you. Anyway this new scrimless batting has to be quilted less than 4″ apart, so the easiest way for me is to stipple. It quilted nicely by the way, although I had felt it was too thin when I first opened it out; the finished quilt has a nice drape and softness. It is probably more lightweight (cooler) than Quilter’s Dream cotton though (and Warm & Natural which is actually 12.5% polypropylene).

As it happens I also made a couple of blocks for the quilt as you go block drive. They are asking for this pattern and have a tutorial on the blog here:

http://siblingstogetherquiltgroup.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/block-drive-for-siblings-together.html?m=1

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And the amazing Nicky of mrsssewandsow.blogspot.co.uk is putting all these blocks together that quilters send in to make more quilts! Some people are really special. She’s a very talented quilter too. That second photo of my blocks is hers by the way, from her Instagram.

Anyway it feels really good that this neglected wee quilt top will go to a little girl who will hopefully get pleasure and comfort from it for many years to come.  If you fancy donating a quilt block, top, back, fabric, time or skill to this informal amazing kind gang of online quilters all over the country and elsewhere, then do check out the siblings together quilt blog (or the original siblings together site if you want to know more about the charity and camps).

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Ahhh, the evening sun as a WIP becomes a finished quilt. Quilter’s bliss.

Till the next time,

Poppy xx

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Postage stamp thoughts…

Happy 2016 lovely creative folks! Thanks for stopping by – despite it being 4 months since my last confession. And since switching to WordPress I get stats, which shows you guys keep checking in, so double thank you for putting up with my prolonged absence!

SO much to tell you about; I had an amazingly successful craft fair and have some thoughts on that; some Christmas stockings for which a tutorial has been requested several times; I have some quilts in the making; I did some free motion embroidery; my EPP hexagon quilt top is 3/4 done; I wanted to show you how I made a wee felt mouse doll in a tin for a friend… it’s hard to know where to start!

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(A few things from my craft fair)

But I’m going to show you the postage stamp quilt that I am currently so into that I am finding it difficult to do anything else, despite it supposedly being a side-project. Including neglecting the shabby-chic commission quilt for a wedding which was 4 months ago… don’t panic, they knew I’d be busy! They didn’t know I would be seduced to the Dark Side of the, er, superbright & scrappy, admittedly. (I don’t think I’ve got the hang of Dark Side quilty metaphors…)

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I have had this yearning for an ultrabright, not very grown up, superscrappy, rainbow, box of sweeties, star-bright, flowers and unicorn vomit quilt for a while, having been inspired by the bazillion amazing, scrappy postage stamp quilts out in blogland, but was actually pretty shocked to discover that I didn’t have many scraps big enough to cut a 2.5″ square from. You need 1,024 X 2.5″ squares for a 64″ square quilt. I was reluctant to cut into uncut FQs in case I needed them for other projects and found myself short. I had about 300 mostly different, big-enough scraps, in the colours I wanted, which I cut up but obviously I needed a whole heap more:

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So I decided to use charm packs. I have a terrifying weakness for charm packs and precuts. To have a tiny bit of a whole collection of beautiful coordinating fabrics in my hand makes my heart flutter a little. But it does mean that there are more errant charm packs hanging about having a fabric party in my cupboards than there will ever be quilts. That’s scrap, right?

It wasn’t until I saw this just perfectly-perfect quilt from “Focus on Quilts” (http://www.focusonquilts.com.au/one-more-post-before-i-leave)

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that I truly fell head over heels. I think it’s because a lot of the scrap quilts you see have a tendency to go quite dark, and I really wanted a crazybright quilt; hers kind of all coordinates and still manages to look happy-scrappy. So I started with a base of the same collection as she did, my favourite collection, Happy go lucky, by Bonnie and Camille for Moda, and then added a few other packs which used similar colours; adding a bit of pink, but no brown, black, dark green or purple.

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I highly recommend visiting that blog page btw, she shows off a variety of utterly gorgeous quilt confection perfection, as well as listing the charm packs she used for her quilt.

Once I partly pieced this 16 x 16 square piece (about 32″ square) I reflected on how it looked a little “flat”. Maybe the colours were too coordinated? It used some “happy go lucky”, “beach house”, “one for you, one for me” (it’s just OK) and “garden project” (which is really really nice) – all for Moda. So I chopped up and threw in some “Sunkissed” and “Ambleside” which I had left over from other projects. Once it also had my own scraps in, it seemed to have a bit more depth from the varying shades of each colour, which I think helps, although it will be paler overall.

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Some more 16-patches ready to be sewn at some point, this time with scraps in:

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But… I think the thing I will enjoy the most is looking at the pieces of scrap fabric I used from my stash. Already, my eye sees them immediately + recognises them as fabrics I bought with love and have used. I like the effect of the charm pack squares but I don’t have that same feelingyou know, I think I might have to raid my stash after all to make it feel more unique and like it’s mine.

By the way I am doing most of this as a “Leaders and Enders” project. This is a technique devised by Bonnie K. Hunter I think (http://quiltville.blogspot.co.uk/). You know how when you finish a line of sewing, you cut your thread, leaving long ends of thread which essentially get wasted? Or when you start sewing, esp piecing triangles or delicate fabrics, your machine tries to eat the fabric? My mother-in-law always uses a piece of scrap fabric to start and finish her sewing (the needle stays in this fabric piece when you finish sewing/ switch off the machine).

Well, a leader/ender is a small bit of patchwork you want to sew together; you use that instead of scrap fabric so it doesn’t eat the corner of the HST you’re making for your proper project, chain piece everything you want to, and then finish with another small piece of your “leader/ender” quilt.

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That’s my “Ender”, which I left in the machine for whichever quilt I decide to work on next time, when it will act as my “leader”.

Before you know it, within a few quilts you have sewn together lots of small 2.5″ squares, first into pairs, and then into 4-patches. Without you really noticing you’ve done it. Well, it slows you down a little I admit. But I certainly didn’t notice sewing 1,100 little squares into 4-patches, as much as I would have done had I tried to just piece them all at once (I might have sworn off quilting forever!).

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I kept them all in a shoebox next to the machine, which was also good for the ten min mindless sewing break. Healthier than fags and booze… 😉

Once you put the 4 patches together, the 16-patches seem to go together pretty quickly, and because it’s scrappy, it’s all pretty mindless. Instead of trying to keep your rows in order, you just sew randomly. Bliss.

There are other ways to do this of course. The amazing goddess of modern square-based quilting, Rita from Red Pepper Quilts has a great tutorial on doing postage stamp quilts using 2″ x 7″ strips cut from scrap or stash. (her squares will finish smaller at 1.5″). I can see that working very quickly, though not as a leader/ender. Her fabulous tutorial is here:

http://www.redpepperquilts.com/2012/04/postage-stamp-quilt-tutorial.html

Meanwhile… My New Year’s resolution after playing more guitar and moving more is to sew less for others and more for us! My boy wants a Spiderman quilt, which is making me very happy, and I envisage a scrappy string quilt (I have lots of strings), a liberty quilt, 1030s feedsack repro picnic quilt, Heather Ross quilts for my two nieces and of course a bright bright postage stamp quilt! There, it’s in black and white – you’re my witness. After the 3 commissions I have to do first. I’ll start after that 😉

Until the next time, may 2016 bring you much love, joy, peace and happiness,

Poppy xx

The twice-made Baby quilt…

Sometimes, that usually fair and just muse, er, Quiltiopoeia, eschews all her principles of “it will be beautiful if you take your time and take care” and her rebellious streak wreaks havoc in your quilty life. I have no idea where I’m going with this fable – but I tell you, this sweet, simple little baby quilt has caused me no end of trouble.

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I know, right? It’s one charm pack of Ambleside by Brenda Riddle for Moda, sewn together and quilted. How hard can it be? I tell you though, do not be fooled by her gorgeousness; she’s a tricksy minx.

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Earlier this year, we had that rarest of rare things – builders whom you actually like having around, who don’t say one thing and provide another, who work until the job is done, who fix problems promptly without complaint, who don’t suck air through their teeth every time they tell you about a minor problem as though you are going to have to sell your right femur to pay for this one, Missus. The father and son team did a great job replacing our decrepit bathroom for us with a “hotel bathroom” (cue clasped hands and joyous musical theatre exclamations from Mrs Cuckooblue). So when young master-builder saw me sewing and asked if I would make a small baby quilt for his niece-on-the-way a few months hence, I said yes, despite vowing to take on no new commissions this year. After all they were so nice, and it wouldn’t take too long, right?

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He chose my charm squares of Marmalade Flannel by Bonnie and Camille for Moda, left over from a little quilt my newest niece plays on, and an Ikea print, Rosalie, apparently designed by Cath Kidston. Oh, I was so on top of it, although somehow I fretted over every stage, the size, the quilting, the batting (Quilter’s Dream cotton). 2 weeks before the due date, I got it to the stage in the picture above, and then went to visit my aforementioned baby niece who was playing on her quilt. I had never used flannel before and was a bit disappointed in how it had washed. Soft, yes, but also kind of old looking. I guess like flannel pyjamas get old and comfy looking quickly..?  In my experience, quilts made with regular high-quality cotton fabrics remain beautiful, if not get more beautiful with subsequent washes, but somehow this flannel one didn’t. It looked better when first made. Disappointing. I think it’s one thing when it’s a gift, but another when someone has commissioned it, don’t you think?

So, some emailing of alternatives I thought they might like later, and all was going well. I used Quilters’ Dream wool batting, which is gorgeously soft with a higher loft than regular cotton batting but still washes pretty easily in the machine, and stipple quilted it. I had loop de loop quilted the Marmalade quilt above, but I thought it needed a bigger quilt really to show off the regularity of the design, I think I prefer the stipple on such a small one.

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Aren’t the fabrics pretty? See that perfect binding too (from Butterscotch and Rose by Fig Tree Quilts for Moda) ? Well, I had been tossing up between this one and a blue floral one. I would like to tell you that I made the right decision immediately, but I didn’t. I unpicked it all before I thought to photograph it, but I’ve just laid the old blue binding on the quilt so you can see why it was all wrong:

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I have learned to pay attention to backs and bindings over the years. Bindings in particular seem such a small thing, but they can make or break a small quilt like this. They DO show, and you need a nice frame. I just thought… oh, I don’t know what I was thinking!

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Pretty fabrics…

And then the monogram he asked for. Was hoping for a beautiful swishy silvered calligraphic embroidered monogram I could tell – he had to settle for applique. And after 24 hours of me gradually discovering that LF in olde-world lettering doesn’t look good or recognisable, Fs and Ls being near mirror images of each other, he agreed to a simple appliqued name. Phew! And very sweet it looks too, I think. In my experience with small children, they love seeing their names, the first word they recognise really. It’s a shame to have some elaborate script, that they can’t read, on their first quilt.

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Aw. It was worth the troubles for this little quilt. I love the softness and snuggly feel of the batting, love the classically sweet fabrics, even love the wee girl’s name. I hope Leah discovers her fingers and toes lying on it, watches the world go by under it in her pram or carseat, loves its snuggliness as she looks at picture books under it. Bless. Nothing like a new baby to tame that mischievous quilty muse.

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Come Back!

Until the next time,

Poppy xx

Hexagons in Spring

This is my only slow-burning project. I’m not really a slow-burning kind of girl; hence this has been a lesson in patience and process rather than product. But the thing about slow-burning is you don’t really realise how productive you have been.

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I’ve posted about this a few times before (links at the bottom) – it’s an English-paper-pieced quilt top in the making, made of 1″-sided hexagons. I have to say I thought I might get to about 200 and turn them into a cushion, but I had that hankering, you know, the one which says “I will be a real quilter if I can do this”. That one. Even though you ARE a real quilter if you put front, batting, back and some stitches together. (Real, albeit maybe not astonishing.) Doesn’t matter though, we are our own worst critics, and sometimes we feel we should put ourselves through a rite of passage.

Apparently this is mine.

My all-time favourite designer is Joanna Figueroa of Fig Tree Quilts for Moda, and this will be a homage to her work – hexies, hand sewn, kept as collections. I realised that although I wanted a scrappy feel, I also didn’t want a bright mish-mash, which I’d rather keep for a hard-wearing machine-quilted picnic quilt. But a hand pieced hexie quilt of my favourite designer’s collections? I’m being buried in this. I am NEVER letting it go.

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This is “Honeysweet”. I just love how all these florals feel traditional but not dull or stuffy.

Avalon/ buttercup

“Avalon”. Isn’t it amazing how that random navy blue can somehow fit into a hexagon quilt with no other blue in and you accept its scrappy nature? Or I just refuse to even contemplate that it doesn’t. It WILL fit. It will.

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That’s “Buttercup”, so pale and floaty…

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And this is “Strawberry Fields”, an earlier collection which I can’t find anywhere now – I got this single charm pack from Australia. This quilt has definitely NOT got a small carbon footprint… I love this collection; so much nicer in real life, fresh, vibrant, mellow, pretty, perfect.

Fig and Plum/ buttercup

“Fig and plum”.

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“Tapestry”; this is one of my all time favourites – you can tell by the number of quilts I have made with it!

Fresh Cottons

This was a cheat because at the time of taking this picture a few days ago, it wasn’t sewn in – it is now though, along with some more. It’s “Fresh Cottons”. I’ve always been underwhelmed by this collection, but once it’s together it is nice and does work. It’s not my favourite; I’m not keen on the minty green somehow. It made the cut though, unlike “Mirabelle”, a more recent collection which I really didn’t take to at all.

I think this is about 1100 – 1200 hexagons sewn together. I was aiming for 1400 (about 60″ square), but it may be more like 1600; mainly because there are other and new collections which I love too. The nice thing is you can buy a charm pack and get the full collection and 160 paper-pieced 1″ hexagons from it, so it’s not like I have to buy a lot of fabric to get the collection. I have some “California girl” to go in:

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Some “Somerset”

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Have ordered some “Aloha Girl”:

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And the release of this beautiful collection in September will make the end of the summer bearable:

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That might be enough. But if she keeps making such beautiful collections I might just have to keep going! Turns out slow burning is OK after all.

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And the best bit? Spring’s here, the sun’s out, and I can sit out in it whilst still sewing. Bliss.

Till the next time,

Poppy

xx

p.s. you can find the three previous posts about this quilt here:

https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/63599622305/hexagon-crazy

https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/74315915679/sexy-hexies

https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/84367443052/the-1000th-hexagon

Pixelated Heart quilt for a New Year Wedding

My friend asked me if I would make a quilt for a lovely couple in their EIGHTIES who are getting a second chance at love. I guess those who are loveable may find love again no matter what their age…

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The Pattern is Pixelated Heart by the amazing Blue Elephant Stitches. I hope the happy couple love this sweet pattern as much as I do!

This is her quilt, made with low volume fabrics instead of white fabrics (I didn’t have the budget for that) – it is utterly stunning!image

You can find her blog and “how to” for this pattern here: http://blueelephantstitches.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/pixelated.html

She is SO talented, seriously you should look at her blog. And so generous – look how she breaks down this quilt for us to make it easier to sew as blocks rather than strips! And she invented the granny squares quilt, which is on my to do list. I love her work.

I had 2 rouenneries Deux charm packs – a beautiful collection from French General for Moda. I cannot get over how much I love French General fabrics, rich yet muted, classic but not old-fashioned, very very French.  I didn’t want to cut too much away from the charms but 5” charms were just going to make too big a quilt (again for budget). So I cut them to 4.5” – this quilt finishes at about 54” square.

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You can see the construction of mine best on this photo (top in progress). Obviously because I was using white fabric rather than low-volume fabrics as contrast, I didn’t need to sew the whole quilt as 4.5” squares, which saved time (another thing I didn’t have). It used 71 printed fabric squares and 40 white squares. I sashed it as above but then decided it needed a border, so I cut the sashing to 2.5” on the sides and 5” top and bottom… image

Then added a 2.5” red border from Rural Jardin which I had in stash. Definitely better.

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Stipple quilted – much as I like to experiment, there are reasons why classic quilting is classic, and I thought for a quilt like this I should go down that route. Had I used low-volume fabrics, straight line quilting would have worked, but I really think something as simple as this needs texture from the free-motion line, don’t you?

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Just LOOK at those scrumptious fabrics. It makes me want to go eat strawberry cream patisserie. New Year. Must. Resist.

What I really like about this is the size, the fabrics and colours, but mostly the fact that although it’s a heart, it’s not too cheesy – and when you fold it up or use it, it looks like a pretty patchwork quilt; it’s only when you spread it out and look from a distance that you see what it is. Perfect for a wedding gift for this loved-up pair apparently. Ahhhh.

Argghh, can’t seem to get this picture to orient the right way. Tilt your head to the right to see what it looks like draped over a box, and you’ll see what I mean about not knowing it’s a heart.

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Quilted with my favourite Quilter’s Dream Orient batting.

Things I don’t like about the quilt:

1. There is not quite enough white space aroung the heart. This was a budget / size thing for the backing and batting.

2. Budgetary concerns meant it has a plain white backing – it’s perfectly nice, but not as wonderful as it could have been and what the fabrics deserved.

3. It’s not for our house. Aye, there’s the rub. This quilt is designed and made for the happy couple but I don’t actually know the octogenerians in love, although I would like to. But the idea of a quilt in their new home signifying their love made me think about the pillowcases I’ve been meaning to make for my own son for ages. About how when I joked that a tiny baby quilt I was making was for him, he was actually disappointed that it wasn’t (even though it was tiny and completely unlike his tastes, I thought he would laugh!). It has shown me that I need to clear the decks and do selfish sewing for the next 6 months; make all those things for us that I need to, sew new buttons onto my coat etc. When you decide to sell a few things to fund your hobby, it seems that  hobby can inadvertantly grow legs, arms, and heat-seeking missiles and take over your life when it wasn’t supposed to. I guess everyone assumes you want to make a living from it eventually, so think they’re being helpful by recommending you etc – and whilst it’s SO flattering and lovely, you have to be careful. Particularly with deadlines when you’re well overdue making pillowcases with stars and trucks on. If you made a living from your hobby, it wouldn’t be a hobby would it? I definitely need to learn to say no for a while! Sometimes.

Oooh a random outburst. Must be New Year 😉

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And with that, may your 2015 be productive, happy and creative. May we all learn to say “no” once in a while.

’til the next time,

Poppy

xx

Vintage Modern Ruby Stars – Charm Pack Busting HST pattern #2 + tutorial

This is a story about Mojo. About abandoning a project for years and ressurecting it, with the bonus of ridding yourself of the nagging guilt that there is abandoned fabric in a box in your house.

Far, far too long ago I bought a Ruby layer cake, used half of it in a well received baby quilt… and then got stuck. Until now:

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Ruby by Bonnie and Camille for Moda Fabrics was an instant hit with quilters when it came out several years ago, and I was instantly seduced by the bright fresh colours – the red and aqua mostly, which was very “in” at the time, and the retro flowers…

But you know, although I rarely say this, I wasn’t as wowed as I wanted to be by the collection. It’s such a modern classic now, and so much beloved that it feels sacrilegious to say it; in hindsight I really should have sold it on to someone who did feel the love. There just seemed to be the wrong balance of what I think of as “headlining patterns” (like the flowers) and “supporting patterns”, as in there were just too many mild geometric patterns which I wasn’t all that enamoured with; it was like there was just too much filler. Too many just-okay supporting actors and not enough Daniel Craig.

Daniel Craig.

Anyway, back in Ruby land. Eventually I chopped the equivalent of a charm pack up into HSTs as below:

Quick method to make 4 HSTs from 2 charm squares:

  1. You take two 5” charm squares, one coloured and one white (or one “cool” and one “warm” coloured)image
  2. You put a coloured charm over a white charm and sew 1/4” seam allowance all round the edgeimage
  3. Rotary cut along both diagonalsimage
  4. Open them up and you have 4 HSTs – although beware they are cut on the bias and so can stretch.image
  5. Trim off the dog ear and you’ll have four of these:image

    They measure about 3.25” square, you should probably trim them to 3” square or something at this point, but I didn’t and it was fine. And the quilt police did not appear, although it felt like I was saying “Candyman” three times in a mirror… 42 squares in a charm pack will yield 168 of these. I’m not going to lie to you it was DULL. But so satisfying to have a big pile of HSTs to play with at the end!

… And so I merrily played. And played. I had meant to do pinwheels, but was underwhelmed and less merry. So I picked out 144 of them (the equivalent of using 36 coloured and 36 white charm squares) and sewed them together into nine 4×4 star blocks. You can see from the photo that once you have HSTs putting together the stars is really easy – once I’d laid the HSTs out, I sewed them in rows, then sewed the rows together to make the block.

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I was really very pleased with them and got them out at intervals to look lovingly at them, but mostly they stayed in a box, languishing. I’ve just looked at my flickr stream and it was 2 years ago I made these blocks! All because I wasn’t feeling the Ruby-love, had one Ruby charm pack left to add to it and was wishing I had just sewed them into square patchwork for a baby girl. But now and then you have to slap yourself out of your quilterwhinge and wo-man up, don’t you? So eventually I dug them out and promised to do something with them.

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Firstly, I laid my blocks into a 3 x 3 grid, added white sashing and red cornerstones. The sashing is 2.5” wide and cornerstones 2.5” square (unfinished).

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And added a 2.5” (unfinished) white sashing border round the edge followed by a 2” inner border of the red main floral Ruby fabric which I love so much. Finally another 2.5” white border, ready for piano keys.

…and then realised my issue was always going to be my feeling that there was a paucity of interesting prints. So I bought a Vintage Modern charm pack – now THIS one is GORGEOUS! I love it. It’s like Ruby plus. Uber Ruby. Anyway, so I mixed my remaining ruby charm pack and vintage modern, cut them in half and made a piano keys border. i used about 54 (maybe 56) charm sqaures for the piano keys border.

I mentioned how to make a piano keys border here, in case you wanted some instructions:

https://cuckooblue.co.uk/post/77412217918/starflowers-chain-quilt-charm-pack-busting-hst

Now I love it. I really do. The mixture of the two collections is great and  the quilt has some “oomph” I think. I’m sure I would have loved it even more with a little Vintage Modern in the stars, but you can’t have it all.

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So, from what I had left over, I seem to have made this quilt with 92 coloured charm squares (and 36 white charm squares plus sashing and borders etc); 36 of them were for the HST star blocks. The quilt top measures about 60” square. I was quite glad that I needed to get some more fabric to make the piano keys border as with the addition of the Vintage Modern I think it ended up being something rather yummy, even against a honeycomb grey house in a weak February Scottish sun:

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Here’s to abandoned WIPs – sometimes they can surprise and delight you. And here’s hoping your WIPs, whatever they may be, are bringing you much pleasure.

Till the next time,

Poppy xx

*Edited*

p.s. My friend saw this post and sent me a photo of the baby quilt I made for her daughter 2 years ago in Ruby – am now thinking I was a bit harsh on Ruby! Pattern is “flowers in the attic” by Sweetjane on etsy, batting is high loft fire retardant polyester. image

p.p.s. Edited in 2015 – you can see the finished quilt here if you like:

https://cuckooblue.co.uk/2015/06/04/vintage-modern-ruby-stars-quilt-finally-finished/

Starflowers Chain Quilt … charm pack busting HST pattern/ tutorial #1

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I have soooo many charm packs! I think it’s my quilty pleasure (boom!). 42 x 5” coordinating fabric squares, anyone? Oh, I think so. Although they are not cheap in the UK, they feel affordable if you are only getting one at a time. The problem is you can’t do an awful lot with just one on its own – you could make a baby blanket for a newborn, but that’s about it. Mix it with white and you have a small quilt, perfect for a young toddler, but not really big enough after the age of about 2 or 3. Now 2 charm packs is a different matter. I love sewing them together, putting a white 3” border on and making a traditional patchwork child sized quilt, which is actually still big enough (52” x 43”) for a throw on the sofa, something to put down on the grass for one adult to sit on, or a student take to college or university. And I’ve made lots of those and will likely make lots more. Still, not exactly BIG.

And I thought I should try and do something more exciting – I appreciate that to some the term exciting might be stretched in the context of sewing bits of fabric together, but in the context of knowing I’m amongst like-minded friends, I’ll just keep that word in. So I’ve made 2 quilt tops so far, each using charm packs to try and be a bigger sized quilt. This first one (above) is a starflower quilt made in High Street by Lily Ashbury for Moda; I’ll tell you about the other one another time!

It was inspired by this lovely quilt, but I wanted it smaller, and also decided to break up the stars. Each block takes 8 charm squares regardless, so a 9 block quilt would be 72 squares whether you do all stars or add the “chain”. image

You can see this quilt and more of Michelle’s work here: http://cityhousestudio.blogspot.co.uk/p/my-quilts.html?m=1  . She’s really talented.

My quilt is quite simple in construction, but in case you wanted a few directions, I’ve given a few instructions.

This is the first block – block A:

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It’s straightforward, but you can’t take any shortcuts with the half square triangles – you have to slice the charm squares in half diagonally and sew them back together, making sure not to stretch the bias edges. There aren’t too many in this quilt, so it’s not too much of a pain. Use a scant 1/4″ seam allowance throughout.

For block A you need:

  • 8 x 5” different coloured charm squares, cut in half along the diagonal to make a “charm triangle”
  • 4 x 5” white squares cut in half along the diagonal to make a “white triangle”
  • 4 x 4.5” white fabric squares
  1. Each charm square gives you 2 charm triangles. Sew one of these to a white triangle along the long diagonal edge. Carry on with the different colours until you have 8 different charm triangles sewn to a white triangle. When you press these open, you have 8 different HSTs, a colour on one half and white on the other.
  2. Then sew your remaining charm triangles together in pairs and press open to make 4 HSTs with a different colour on each half.
  3. Trim all your HSTs to 4.5” square.
  4. lie them out in the above arrangement, putting a 4.5” white square in the corners to complete the block.
  5. sew together into rows and then sew the rows together to make a block.
  6. Block A finishes at 16” square: you need 5 of these blocks.

This is Block B:

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For block B you need:

  • 8 x charm squares, cut to be 4.5” square
  • 4 x white rectangles, each measuring 4.5” x 8.5”
  1. Sew 4 charms into a four-patch. Next sew the long edge of a white rectangle on each side of your 4-patch. Put this aside.
  2. Take one white rectangle and sew a charm square onto each of the short sides of the rectangle. Do this with the remaining white rectangle.
  3. Put the rows together as shown in the photo and sew together.

Lie your blocks out on the floor in three rows of 2 blocks, starting with Block A and alternating them . Sew the rows together:

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And ta-da! Easy. This is it at 48” square. I do think it would be really lovely made as 16 blocks, and/or made with smaller HSTs.

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I’d originally meant to finish here and put a white border on using 2.5” strips of white, intending to bind with something bright and coordinating, probably a deep pink. That would have made a 52” square quilt using 72 charm squares… and mission acomplished – a decent sized lap quilt using fewer than 2 charm packs. The other 12 charms could even have been used as a strip down the back.

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But in the end I went all out and decided to add a piano keys border to make a larger lap quilt, one which could be used on the beach or as a picnic rug, as well as a sofa quilt or extra layer on a single bed. Partly because I impulsively bought several charm packs in this line and have a male dominated household, not to mention a country-style house interior which is better suited to muted colours and beiges rather than white and brights, so I need to use them up. And partly because although I enjoyed making this, I am likely to stick to my favoured simple patchwork squares. Bah, traditionalist. So I wanted to see it dressed properly this time!

For the piano keys border I used all my 12 remaining charms AND another charm pack… and about another 6 squares, which REALLY annoyed me. I would have liked it to be exactly 3 charm packs… but it would have only worked out if I had omitted the white border round the quilt centre like this (not stitched together, just laid out):

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I like it. But the Hubster started droning on about negative space being important in design… yadayadayada. He has no concept of running out of fabric. Although he did go on to say it looked as though I ran out of fabric. Drat it all.

So… Piano keys border

– using your remaining 12 charm squares, another charm pack AND 6 more charm squares cut from a fat quarter/stash/layer cake…

  1. First, if using, add a border round your starflower chain quilt, using 2.5” strips of white. Sew a strip to 2 opposite sides of the quilt first and then add the remaining 2 sides.
  2. Cut your charm squares in half, sew together lengthways until you have about 30 in each strip. I chain pieced, sewing them all into pairs, then the pairs into fours, then into eights etc. but others may prefer to just keep adding one to their strip. image
  3. Press all the seams in one direction. Sew a strip to one edge of your quilt and another to the opposite edge, checking first that it’s long enough! Trim the excess. Then add the other two strips on the other sides of the quilt – again check first it’s long enough and add more “keys” if necessary before you sew it on). How folk do the maths for fancy cornerstones, I have no idea.

…And finished! One starflower chain quilt top measuring 61” square from 3 charm packs (+ a fat quarter) and some white fabric (about 2 yards with some spare). Or a 51” square one using 2 charm packs, if you are going to be a stickler for original missions 😉

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It was so windy today in Scotland, this was the best picture I could get! But at least it’s not raining, so you can kind of see the colours in this lovely collection by Lily Ashbury. Now just to back, baste, quilt and bind. But not today! Enjoy your day/night/evening whatever you’re doing lovely peeps,

Till the next time,

Poppy xx